The Unabridged Cube is a motley collection that contains one of each card ever printed. Sometimes — particularly during spoiler season — it puts some new and unreleased cards into a random booster draft. How and why it does this is a question best left to the ages; you can only conclude that this at least makes your local tournaments more interesting.
Sometimes, however, a quality deck will elude you regardless of how many unreleased cards you draft. Today is no exception: you’re playing around with a copy of the Amonkhet expansion’s Throne of the God-Pharoah. However, you’re doing this in a
“So,” Phil says, “are you blocking anything?”
You glance at the cards in your hand (a Lat-Nam’s Legacy and a Negate), then shake your head. “I can’t block the Heirs of Stromkirk, and I think I’ll let your Ryusei, the Falling Star through for now.”
“Okay,” Phil says. “You’ve got two cards in hand, so Meishin, the Mind Cage gives everything -2/-0. That means the Heirs are 1/3 and Ryusei’s a 3/5. I’ll tap my Wyluli Wolf to give the Heirs a +1/+1 bonus, making them 2/4.”
“So you’ll take two damage from the Heirs?”
“Just one — the Chains leave me with three cards in hand. I’m down to six life.”
“And the Heirs get another +1/+1 counter,” Phil says, reaching into his dice bag.
You glance at the board again. Meishin, the Mind Cage has been the only thing preventing Phil from winning this game outright, but he’s now starting to outpace it, and there seems to be no relief in sight.
“I’ll tap 6 mana to cast a Needleshot Gourna, then end my turn,” Phil says. “Any responses?”
Your upkeep draws from the Legacy turn out to be fairly good — a Lithomancer’s Focus and a Gift of Tusks. However, your draw step gives you an Azorius Chancery, and you most definitely don’t have a need for lands at the moment. Still, it leaves you with four cards in your hand for the Mind Cage.
That said, you’re not about to stand by while a dragon and some vampires whittle down your life total over the next few turns. There’s got to be a way out of this mess.
It is the start of your first main phase. Defeat Phil before the beginning of his next combat phase.
You are at 6 life, with the following cards in play:
- Grixis Illusionist
- Advance Scout
- Stitchwing Skaab
- Barrenton Cragtreads
- Throne of the God-Pharoah
- Meishin, the Mind Cage
- 4 Plains
- 3 Islands
- Tranquil Cove
You have the following cards in your hand:
You have not yet played a land this turn. You do not know the identities or order of any of the remaining cards in your library.
Phil is at 9 life and has no cards in his hand. He has the following cards in play:
- Wyluli Wolf (tapped)
- Woolly Spider (with Phil’s Hammerhand attached)
- Yellow Scarves General
- Heirs of Stromkirk (tapped, with two +1/+1 counters on it)
- Needleshot Gourna
- Ryusei, the Falling Star (tapped)
- 4 Mountains (three tapped)
- 4 Forests (three tapped)
If you think you’ve got a great solution in mind, don’t put it in the comments! Instead, send it to email@example.com with the subject line “Puzzle — Mindbender” by 11:59 P.M. EST on Sunday, April 23, 2017. We’ll include the best ones in next week’s article along with the next puzzle!
Last Week’s Puzzle
Correct solutions to last week’s puzzle were received from Norman Dean, Russell Jones, Paul Seitz, Matthew Harvey, Aaron Golas, Addison Fox, Samuel Sadusky, Greg Dreher, Bill Murphy, Dominic Chan, Samuel Heersink, Hyman Rosen, Ryou Niji, Subrata Sircar, and Luke Paulsen.
“It's funny,” Addison Fox writes.“Desiree cast Nest of Scarabs under the assumption that making dozens of 1/1 tokens would be a good idea, but here we come with the Lost Order of Jarkeld making her regret having the ability (and indeed, the requirement) to go so wide.”
“It is clear that the only way we could deal enough damage is with a huge Lost Order of Jarkeld,” Ryou Niji points out.“Because of Vorrac Battlehorns, even if the opponent has an army of creature tokens, she can only block with one creature and is open to massive trample damage. The problem is how to manipulate the opponent's cards to generate that many tokens for you.”
This is where a certain Black enchantment comes in. “Nest of Scarabs can create a lot of tokens for Desiree,” Matthew Harvey writes, “but only if she puts -1/-1 counters on everything . . . which is just what Soul Snuffers does when it enters the battlefield. But one trigger from Soul Snuffers wouldn't be enough — we need it to enter the battlefield twice.”
You can actually get as far as 22 damage with careful sequencing. Samuel Heersink’s solution illustrates this route:
“It’s funny that the ‘can't be blocked by more than one creature’ clause ended up unnecessary,” Ryou adds.“Even if the opponent blocks Lost Order of Jarkeld with all available blockers, our instant-speed trick ensures that only the Mistform Wall will be left, and the new Insect tokens as well as the Soul Snuffers itself can only watch helplessly!”
“Note that while all the Nest of Scarabs triggers are on the stack waiting to create that army of Insects,” Matthew continues, “our Lost Order of Jarkeld is still a 3/3, as Desiree still controls three creatures — Mistform Wall (-2/1), Vampire Envoy (-1/2) and Soul Snuffers (2/2).(The Lost Order would be a 5/5 if not for the two -1/-1 counters.) So there is no chance of it ending up dead due to state-based effects while we wait for the insects.”
“It’s actually a very good thing that Nest of Scarabs doesn't care what sort of creatures (token or non-token) are getting the -1/-1 counters,” Matthew muses.“If it did, this would have gone very differently.”